Monday, August 11, 2008

Dozens Of Congressmembers Face No Opposition To Re-election


Earlier today I was moaning and groaning about how conservative congressman Dennis Cardoza, a Blue Dog from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, would face no opposition in his undeserved march to re-election. Worse yet, his neo-fascist neighbor, Republican wingnut George Radanovich, despite massive Democratic registration gains in his district, faces no opponent in November. Back in March we noted how none of the federal elected officials in Arkansas-- a very mediocre Democratic senator, Mark Pryor, plus 3 worse than mediocre Democratic congressman and a certifiably insane Republican congressman-- would be facing any opposition as they cruise to re-election.

Today's CQPolitics looks into this odd phenomena, noting that the gigantic disapproval of Congress in national surveys is not reflected in likely results at the ballot boxes. Reporter Greg Giroux chalks it up to incumbents being "personally popular in their home districts and also because they have enormous institutional and financial advantages against weak opponents." I'm not sure how personally popular they are, but they certainly have fixed the rules of the game in their own favor in terms of campaign finance and gerrymandering. Giroux's main point however, is that 56 members of the House have no major party opponents whatsoever, one in seven! There are 43 Democrats and 13 Republicans without opposition this year.
Many of the unopposed Democrats represent compact urban districts with large percentages of racial and ethnic minorities who side overwhelmingly with the Democratic Party. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the second most-senior member of the House, does not face Republican opposition as he bids for a 23rd term in a black-majority Democratic bastion in and around Detroit.

The ranks of unopposed Republican incumbents include some who represent overwhelmingly conservative suburban districts. Rep. Spencer Bachus ’ Alabama district includes suburbs of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa and backed President Bush’s re-election with 78 percent of the vote in 2004. Bachus hasn’t been challenged by a Democrat since 1998.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul ’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination was a longshot, but his re-election campaign is anything but: no Democrat filed to run to oppose him in the state’s 14th District, where Paul will win a 10th full term and continue to represent a Gulf Coast district that takes in Victoria and Galveston.

It is an affirmation of the accelerating disintegration of the Republican Party as a serious national entity that they are unable to mount campaigns against so many Democrats who are hardly show-ins, including freshmen like Niki Tsongas (who won her Massachusetts special election last year with a bare 51% majority), Phil Hare (D-IL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Laura Richardson (D-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT). In fact, when I ran into Welch at a Bob Weir concert a few months ago. he kept insisting his re-election was up in the air and that Republicans were mounting an aggressive challenge to him. CQ lists seven California Democrats as having no opposition as well as two Republicans. Six Massachusetts Democrats have no opponents. Looks like the Republicans have given up on their loud but pointless efforts to seat John Murtha in Pennsylvania and, after smashing the Republican-lite corporate shill Nikki Tinker in his Democratic primary last week, progressive Steve Cohen joins to two reactionary Blue Dogs in Tennessee to a clear sail into re-election in November. And aside from Ron Paul, 5 other GOP extremists in Texas have no opponents. Ironically, each of the 6 Republican wingnuts cruising to re-election without opposition should be vulnerable based on the tremendous amount of Big Oil bribes they have been taking while voting for policies that have driven up the price of gasoline from $1.51 when Bush took over to around $4.00 now.

Louis Gohmert ($185,663)
Ted Poe ($128,650)
Jeb Hensarling ($176,850)
Michael Conaway ($487,418)
Ron Paul ($160,032)
Lamar Smith ($342,897)

One would think that at least an effort like Republican Phil Roe made in Tennessee to unseat Oil whore David Davis, also a Republican, in last week's primary could be duplicated in some all of these districts.

This lack of opposition for politicians who are by no means icons is another telling symptom in an undeniable diagnosis that American democracy is gravely ill. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) for example, will not have to answer to her constituents at all for her controversial activities on behalf of right-wing Republican members of Congress or answer any questions about why she launders far right money into Democratic coffers from anti-Cuba and from sugar interests. Given the way her district-- and all of Florida-- has been so blatantly gerrymandered she would probably win re-election anyway, but a challenge would give voters the opportunity for a full airing of the serious political charges against her.



At 1:53 PM, Anonymous lee said...

Remember what Howard Dean said? There are 3 parties..Republicans, Democrats and incumbents. Aside from real reform, we need term limits. Where I live in Montgomery County PA. I am represented by Alyson Schwartz. Even among the Democratic rank and file, people are not crazy about her and are really sorry that Joe Hoeffel gave up his seat ( which she won) to run against Arlen Spector. Finding someone to run against her would be great as she's way to comfortable..

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